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Posts Tagged ‘Geneva Illinois’

Our good friend Svein Ludvigsen and his brother-in-law Herulf came to vist the Norwegian community in Chicago this week. Svein represented the county of Troms in the Norwegian Parliament and was the Vice President of the Norwegian Lagting from 1997 to 2001, he was also the Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and is currently the Governor of Troms.

Svein is a golf enthusiast and along with many of his friends here in Chicago (including Don Hoganson) spent several days out on the links perfecting his stroke. A few years ago Svein invited many of us to his home near Tromsø for a day of golf and several days of fun in his far northern community.

I’m not much of a golfer but I do enjoy history and in particular Norwegian and Viking history. Svein and Herulf have been the guests of Lowell and Helen Olberg and the Olbergs suggested that we meet Svein and Herulf at “The Viking”, a ship anchored in a park in Geneva, Illinois. This ship is open by appointment. For tour fees and information check here.

For those of you not familiar with this ship:

The Viking was built at Christen Christensen’s Framnes Shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway in 1892. It was copied after the ancient Viking ship Gokstad that had been excavated in 1880. The Gokstad has been called the most beautiful ship ever built.

The Viking is approximately 76 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 6.5 feet high from the bottom of the keel to the gunwale. Clinker built, its planks are fastened together with thousands of iron rivets. In 1893 the Viking sailed from Norway to Chicago, via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, and became one of the greatest attractions at the World’s Columbian Exposition. It could be see for many years in Lincoln Park near the zoo and has been recently declared one of ten most endangered historic sites in Illinois by “Landmarks Illinois”, a statewide historic preservation advocacy group. For more information please contact the Friends of the Viking Ship.

Lorraine explains to our guests some of the history of the ship.

Lorraine explains to our guests some of the history of the ship.

Svein enjoys studying history and very much enjoys ancient Norsk writings and literature. Lorraine Straw was our tour guide at the Viking Ship and she gave us the grand tour including a peek at some of the plans the group has for adding new interpretive signs, a loudspeaker system and a new fund raising drive to preserve the rivets that hold the ship together. Many of the artifacts from the ship are not located at the park but are instead housed at the Museum of Science and Industry. Two shields from the ship can be seen at the Norsk Museum in Norway, Illinois. (See the article on this site for more info on that museum.)

Lorraine points out repairs made to the ship.

Lorraine points out repairs made to the ship.

Side Rudder

Side Rudder

Later that evening Svein spoke of the passion that Lorraine showed for the ship and commended her spirit for the preservation effort and all of the volunteers that that put work into the site.

Each time I visit the Viking it reminds me of my childhood and the trips we took to Chicago passing the Viking in Lincoln park and my father telling us “there is your heritage, your great-great grandfathers were Vikings and those were the ships they sailed.”

Ken Nordan
Contributing Editor

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